Operating on Grade Level Means No IEP? NOT!

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I have an 8 year-old on the spectrum with fairly severe sensory and anxiety issues. He needs support with executive functioning and coping with anxiety. He now has speech, OT, special education and psych services.

I was told that by age 9, if he was still operating on grade level, he could no longer have an IEP. I am terrified that his IEP will be downgraded to a 504 next year. Is this true?

Lisa ‚ check your Law Book.

You will not find anything in IDEA that says IEPs end at age 9.

Have you made a written request to see the copy of the rule/regulation/policy that the school is using to terminate IEPs at age 9?

The question that needs to be answered is:

Does your child have a disability that adversely affects his educational performance?

If the answer to the question is “yes,” then your child is eligible under IDEA. [even at age 9]

Check IDEA 2004 – Determination of Eligibility (20 U.S.C. 1414).

Read the Federal Regulations regarding:

  • determining eligibility
  • requirements for FAPE
  • requirements for evaluations
  • reevaluations, and
  • what must be done before a school can terminate eligibility

IDEA states that a child does not have to fail or be retained to be considered for special education and related services. On the other hand, performing on grade level does not make a child ineligible for an IEP.

Will your child’s disability (when he turns 9) affect his educational performance?

Will he still (when he turns 9) need special education and related services?

Read these articles.

Is a Child with Passing Grades Eligible for Special Ed Under IDEA?

Good Grades: Does My Child Still Need Specialized Instruction?

Functional Performance & Functional Goals in IEPs

Read more about Eligibility

  1. School will tell you what ever they want you to believe. If you have any doubts or concerns, have them put it in writing. Make sure to audio record all you PPTs. It’s amazing how quickly school staff follows the law. When ever you think to yourself that, “this can’t be right”, trust it. I sure there is a law to prove your right. Contact CPAC if you need guidance. They are great! Or the educational advocate assigned to your district through your state.

    • In this case the school seems to be on the right track. Simply having a disability does not qualify a student for IEP services. Said disability HAS to impede the students ability to access the curriculum. If a student is preforming at grade level, that is an indication that their disability is not impeding their ability to learn. Without academic concerns, an IEP does not seem necessary for this student. This students needs looks like it can be met through a 504 or a Speech only IEP with OT services.

  2. What is his current eligibility qualification? If he is currently Developmental Delay? If so, he can not keep that eligibility past his ninth birthday. I would request additional testing! If he doesn’t qualify under any other area, a 504 is the way to go. He is still being protected under disability laws!

  3. I’m guessing that he is up for reevaluation when he turns 9. Performing on grade level demonstrates that the disability is not adversly affecting his educational performance. He would benefit from a 504 to put accommodations in place. An IEP is not needed as he is able to access the curriculum successfully without individualized instruction. IMO

    • “Performing at grade level demonstrates that the disability is not adversely affecting his educational performance”–Not necessarily. What if he’s performing at grade level because of the supports and services? Without those in place, you could very well see how the disability affects educational performance. Taking away an IEP because it’s working seems to me to be counter productive.

      • Totally agree, I’ve met any parents who say they want to take away a 504 or IEP because “they are better” common sense for these educators if the accommodations are working why take them?

        I’ve also seen, if child improves IEP or 504 becomes void.. what is this? I’ve seen all sorts of stuff against our child.. many parents don’t even know if you don’t agree refuse to sign and reschedule another appointment where you can make a list of requested items for help your child.

  4. Please don’t be afraid of 504 plans. Some years ago I spoke with the head of the Midwestern Office for Civil Rights which oversees compliance with 504s (and IEPs, should you choose to complain to them because it is discriminatory to not follow an IEP). He said, “anything you can put on an IEP, you can put on a 504, even goals and benchmarks if you and the school district agree.” This includes special education, related services, extended school year, the whole shebang, providing your child needs these things to compensate for their disability. Nevertheless, it would be a good idea to ask in writing why your district has suggested removing your child from his IEP at age 9 and to ask for pointers as to which regulation they are referring to, as mentioned above.

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